When you learn to drive you are taught to obey the laws and practice safe driving etiquette. You are told to place your hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, use your turn signal, be mindful of your surroundings and yield to pedestrians.
Cars are equipped with several safety mechanisms, and new cars have a conglomerate of technology meant to decrease dangers. Despite all of these features, drivers are more distracted than ever. Cell phones, iPods, fast food options and busy schedules quickly interfere with our abilities to drive safe.
So how can you strive to be a distraction-free motorist?
The National Safety Council designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which makes this the perfect time to brush up on your safe driving habits. There are several moves you can make to help be a more alert and present driver.
- Plan your route: For many people, actual maps are a thing of the past. If you still plan to use a paper map, look at the route ahead of time and then display the map in your vehicle where you can easily see it. If you are using a GPS device—built in or external—or an app on your cell phone, look at the steps before putting the car in motion. Utilize an on-dash holder that places your devise in a spot where you can keep your focus on the road.
- Take care of your technology: Set your music up before taking off. Select a channel, insert your CD or pick your playlist before shifting into drive. Enter your destination into your GPS and mount your devise. Place your phone on a “do not disturb” or “driving” function. If need be, place your phone out of reach to eliminate the urge to use it. Send your text or make your phone call prior to leaving. If you need to contact someone while on the road, pull over to a safe location and park the car first.
- Notify your passengers: Let your passengers know that you need to focus on the road and that you won’t be able to interact with them in a way that pulls your attention. Set volume expectations ahead of time and let your passengers know when you need their assistance or if they are blocking your view.
- Check yourself: Driving requires you to be alert and clear headed. Before you get behind the wheel, fuel up. Don’t drive drowsy. It’s also best to avoid driving when you are emotional. If you are angry or sad, your mind may not be clear enough to really focus on your task.
Taking these measures will help contribute to a safer commute. Use this month to avoid distracted driving habits and encourage your friends and family to do the same.